HEALTH

Paraguay Dengue Crisis Worsens; Hospitals Overfull and Private Clinics Turn-Out Patients

Paraguay hospitals have become so overcrowded because of the growing dengue situation that gravely ill patients have been forced to go private clinics for treatment.

Now, those private clinics are kicking out patients who fail to pay their medical bills, according to published reports.

One those private clinics, Manuel Riveros, is threatening to take a man off life support because his family can’t pay his medical bills, according to the Paraguayan newspaper La Ultima Hora.

The patient, who was taken to the clinic after all the private hospitals were overcapacity, is one of a growing number of people in Paraguay diagnosed with dengue, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.

In Paraguay, about 56 people this year have died of the disease, which causes fevers, headaches, skin rashes, nausea and muscle and joint pain. There are over 7,000 people with dengue, and 22,000 other suspected cases.

Last week, Congress declared a public health emergency in three municipalities, including its capital, Asunción. This week, Congress is considering whether to expand the public health emergency to the entire country – a few days after the health ministry said they were experiencing the worst dengue epidemic in the country’s history.

Health officials have asked people to avoid travel during Holy Week, which begins today, so they won’t spread the disease or become infected with it.

With no vaccine existent for dengue, the country has focused on fumigation efforts and large-scale clean up campaigns. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in water and trash, so the clean up effort is particularly critical in Paraguay's prevention efforts.

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